GP complaints down 10%, says MDU

Complaints about general practice have fallen by 10% in the past year, bringing them back down to 2008 levels, data from the the Medical Defence Union (MDU) reveal.

The MDU found that complaints had fallen by 11 per cent in 2010/11
The MDU found that complaints had fallen by 11 per cent in 2010/11

The medico-legal organisation said this suggested that a rise in complaints in 2009/10 was caused by changes to the NHS complaints system, rather than declining standards.

The finding comes as the GMC reported that slipping medical standards were not to blame for a 30% increase in fitness-to-practise referrals since 2004.

The MDU research found complaints were up 10% in 2009/10 but then fell by 11% in 2010/11.

It also found that although complaints increased in 2009/10, the proportion referred on to the health service ombudsman dropped by a third.

The MDU said the most common reasons for complaints were allegations of delayed or wrong diagnosis, problems with communication or issues with prescribing.

MDU medico-legal adviser Dr Jacqueline Phillips, who carried out the research, said the new NHS complaints system introduced in 2009 was likely to be behind the increase in complaints in 2009/10.

She said: 'Looking at the trends it is clear that the new complaints procedure was a factor. This meant practices were notifying us more about complaints and looking for advice on how to handle matters. The rise did not reflect a decline in medical standards.'

GP complaints
  • Complaints about general practice fell by 10% over the last year according to the MDU.
  • The drop followed a spike in complaints in the previous year.
  • The GMC has blamed a rise in fitness-to-practise cases on changes to the NHS complaints system.

Meanwhile, a GMC investigation showed the increase in fitness-to-practise referrals over recent years was due to improved systems of oversight and monitoring by employers.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: 'More complaints about doctors do not necessarily mean standards are slipping.

It could be a sign that the systems to identify problems are improving.

'In addition, rather than keeping quiet about problems, doctors are more likely to speak up when they see anything that could pose a risk to patient safety. And that is exactly as it should be.'

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

First-dose COVID-19 vaccine supply for GP sites to stop completely for a fortnight

First-dose COVID-19 vaccine supply for GP sites to stop completely for a fortnight

Supplies of COVID-19 vaccine for first-dose vaccinations at GP-led vaccination sites...

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK are playing a leading role in the largest-ever NHS vaccination...

More than 70% of COVID-19 jabs this month have been second doses

More than 70% of COVID-19 jabs this month have been second doses

More than seven in 10 COVID-19 jabs administered UK-wide since the start of April...

Accountant's theft of more than £60,000 from GP practices uncovered in pandemic

Accountant's theft of more than £60,000 from GP practices uncovered in pandemic

An accountant has been handed a suspended jail term after stealing more than £60,000...

GMC to contact thousands of GPs due to revalidate from August

GMC to contact thousands of GPs due to revalidate from August

The GMC is writing to thousands of doctors due to revalidate from August to set out...

NHS England spells out next steps as GPs told to cancel AZ jabs booked for under-30s

NHS England spells out next steps as GPs told to cancel AZ jabs booked for under-30s

GP-led vaccination sites should offer under-30s due to receive a first dose of AstraZeneca...